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Q&A: PUSD board candidates answer the questions

Top row, from left: Barbara J. Mace, Dee Navarro, and John Mackin. Bottom row: Dr. Ollis Butch Miller, Scott Hicks, and Tina Seeley.

Top row, from left: Barbara J. Mace, Dee Navarro, and John Mackin. Bottom row: Dr. Ollis Butch Miller, Scott Hicks, and Tina Seeley.

Six candidates are running for three open seats on the Prescott Unified School District Governing Board. Two - Dee Navarro and Tina Seeley - are incumbents. The Daily Courier asked each candidate about pressing issues PUSD - and education, in general - faces.What is the most pressing issue the district faces? What would you do about it?Scott Hicks: Lack of funding from declining enrollment and state budget cuts. Ensure that every dollar we receive in state funding is maximized, and explore all options that could increase enrollment.Barbara J. Mace: Continuing quality education with depleted resources and revenue is most pressing. I would instill public awareness, support creative funding sources, and advocate efficient & pertinent technology.John Mackin: Declining enrollment over the past several years.  It has several effects, the biggest being finances.  Push for an override and focus on PHS improvements.  Dr. Ollis Butch Miller: I believe funding is probably the most pressing issue at this time as it is the foundation for most other issues facing education today and PUSD in particular. First of all I would work with the educational leadership at looking at the strategic plans for the district and the individual school leadership to determine the priorities for the district and schools. Then the next step is to look at how the current funding and budget can be managed in a fiscally responsible manner to meet the highest priority needs with an emphasis on the students and learning. Dee Navarro: We need to pressure the legislature to understand the severity of the budget shortfall and its constant threat to the public education of our students.Tina Seeley: The most pressing issue for our District is lack of money to do the things that need to be done within our schools.  Many of our buildings are in need of repair and updating, especially in the area of technology. We need money for textbooks, supplies, and current teaching materials for our kids to be competitive in today's global market.  Both the state and federal government need to stop passing non-funded mandates that further burden our teachers and take more of our resources to accomplish.  I will continue to advocate for children on a state and national level.Do you support a bond or override? Why?Hicks: I would, only if after studying the reasons for the bond or override find it absolutely necessary. Keeping pace with the needs of our schools is imperative if we want to excel.Mace: Yes - Since 2007 state funding has been cut 24 percent while building renewal funded only 50 percent. Our students and staff need modern technology, timely curricular materials, and a safe environment.Mackin: I support both.  The community needs to focus more on youth and education.  Arizona needs to make changes on the state level as well.Miller: That would depend on the need for the bond or the override and the plans for the use of the monies. I would support any funding issue that is addressed at the pressing needs of the individual schools in the district and improving learning for students at all levels. I would also support any issue that might be directed toward the vocational programs in the district and to prevent cutting other programs. Navarro: At this time I would support a bond for technology and capital needs. I see this as the only way we can fund our schools to keep them abreast of current technology.Seeley: Yes I would support a bond or override for PUSD.  I am a parent with two children in the district and I want the best education with the best educators possible.  It's time that we start investing in our children and their education - not just here in Prescott, or Arizona, but nationally as well. What would you do to further partnerships among schools, local businesses, and community agencies?Hicks: I would listen to the needs of the students and the community. Several partnerships are in place, while others are in the grant application process. I would like to help publicize them more than they are now.Mace: Support a communication method/linkage/ombudsman to assure each partnership member has meaningful, pertinent and timely access to one other.Mackin: PUSD is working on business support and volunteerism and we need to keep moving in that direction.Miller: I think involving the local community and businesses in ways they could provide opportunities for mentoring or working with the students and possibly internships or volunteer opportunities for the students to improve student understanding of civic responsibility would be important. I would also get involved with the Chamber of Commerce in regards to how the schools and businesses can work together to enhance cooperation. This cooperation would need to involve local nonprofit agencies as well. Navarro: Thanks for all the associations with local entities that already exist.  I would support more communication among the regional entities and PUSD and welcome any new relationships.   Seeley: We have a great new partnership with several local businesses that meets on a regular basis. They discuss things such as: what our businesses are looking for in graduates, what skills are needed in the marketplace and how we can help each other and our community.  It is comprised of teachers, business leaders, community members, school board members and other PUSD staff.  We also have other community partnerships that are working successfully to benefit children.  I think it's important for these programs to continue.How would you propose to make use of Proposition 204 monies, if the initiative passes?Hicks: Invest in technology that would ultimately save the district money, address cut programs, evaluate lagging teacher salaries, and work toward creating an environment that attracts more students.Mace: As 204 funds are earmarked, I would advocate 1) enriching K-3 reading proficiency programs, 2) using Dept. of Education teacher training & technology provisions to analyze assessments and provide IEPs, 3) developing a student engagement/parental communication piece in evaluation documents.Mackin: I would focus on teacher salaries and K-12 arts.  Getting input from teachers and administrators at every school. Hold public forums.Miller: My first priority would be on using the funds in a manner that directly impacts the students in the schools and improving learning. I would also support reasonable use for salaries for teachers and those directly involved with the students in the schools. Again this would need to be done along the lines of the priorities for fiscally responsible leadership at the school and district level.Navarro: That would be left up to administration on how the funds would be spent. I am confident the funds would be used for the best interests of helping our students to succeed.Seeley: As with most money that school districts receive, Prop 204 money will have specific uses lined out in the proposition.  Most of the money will be used to assist in accountability and assessment requirements, help failing schools, improve pupil reading, create evaluations, maintain a system for student data and school finance to meet state standards, and provide teacher training in the use of technology for the required statewide assessments and standards, etc.  Keep in mind that there are other state entities that will receive money from this proposition as well, not just the schools.
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